Friday 29 May 2015

Where is Europe going?

In a time of great confusion and muddling interests we seemed to have uncovered a world of far reaching smokescreens, and mirrors with an in excess of conflicting self-interests. All moral standing has been blown into the wind, freedom of speech is a right and then suppressed if you speak your heart and mind, and justice is a thing of the past. All this magnifies a blurred sense of right and wrong justifying poor conduct in an economic, social and political system that is fast losing its sense of purpose. Another hot topic this time in the football world is the subject of corruption. This prompted to ask a professor in finance in how he would define the meaning of corruption. He came out with a stunning thought provoking definition:

At the expense of the common good, consciously compromising one's principles or timeless ethical standards in pursuit of personal interests

One could almost deduce that based on this meaning, corruption remains rife and is everywhere. This is seemingly more apparent in politics and in business with many falling victims from perpetrators whilst most are apathetic, in an economic system that many might argue is in free-fall compounded by a minority in business, the media through sedition, intermediaries, leaders and politicians at the top causing harm in a human race with such a poor outlook where even our most basic of universal principles such as reciprocity, trust and integrity have vanished in a puff of smoke.

The European Commission argues corruption is costing our economy €120 billion annually yet this is a narrow view related solely to fraud and bribery when in fact the above definition is related to something so much deeper that being our moral interior. €120 billion is just the tip of the iceberg. Our belief, our value system our conscience, our strength of character, our capacity to serve, to create, to teach, to encourage, to lead and contribute to the needs of others has been pulled into the opposite direction by external perhaps inexplicable forces which are really and truly narrowed down to personal or self- interests.

Here in Belgium we are commemorating the 200 years of the Battle of Waterloo. Napoleon in our history makes for a very intriguing leader that brought meaning, pride and honour to many French people. A man with immense enthusiasm. (Enthusiasm was a term used by the ancient Greeks as those to have divine manifestations). His strength of character displayed by a belief of applied intelligence, a hierarchical system based on merit, hard work, mental toughness and physical courage, law and order, and contempt for anything that is self-serving. We can take light from such influential figures in our history.

By contrast today it is the term self–serving, our sense of entitlement and lack of belief and common purpose that negatively sticks out most in parts of our culture falsely perceived by some common diktat that the world owes us every thing as the key to our happiness and yet if I want to have a bigger garden, is it the dog in me that will dictate or is it my master?

How are we going to command respect to our leaders  when such people in responsibility such as Mr.Juncker is seen manhandling all the country leaders and not remembering their names making a mockery of the dignity of office of the European Union that he represents? Other leaders are having secret meetings about taxation as if taxation is the only solution to all our problems. Belgian politicians are talking about legalising sexual liberty for 14 year old girls whilst the issue of sexuality is one of the most personal of all matters linked to our identity and dignity and to many is not an open book that instead can have a reverse effect in encouraging more deviances and lack of respect.

In finance many people including Warren Buffet predict some crash some day. The stock market has become a measurement system that has simply lost its long term serving benefit that it once had and has instead become tyrannically abused by short sighted wealthy and powerful speculators that are only interested in their short term gain with no higher purpose except one’s own. This is having a devastating perhaps even psychological impact on listed companies which is a true test of their character when making long term decisions. This corrupt out dated and beleaguered system has evidently played havoc in our lives and resulted in a culture of short term insecurity rather than long term fulfilment.

A senior Banker mentioned to me in horror that Bonds have been the hottest thing on the market. Corporate bonds that are nicely packaged and passed around and no doubt will be nicely laid into colourful looking 'assets' creating nothing from nothing. Déjàs Vu? A good name for this game could be ‘musical debts’ where you pass the debt by dancing round in circles and cracking over the champagne.  What happens when the music stops? HSBC would rather go down with the Titanic.... presumably with a glass of Bollinger joined by Goldman’s who are only now beginning to admit that the world is over bloated with suspects instead with a glass of Cristal.

In a increasingly corrupt economic, social and political system it is very difficult for the weak or for any of us for that matter to rise up and assume responsibility and even the fittest can feel vulnerable. Nevertheless there are always solutions and a chance to show our true colours. And yes it's possible. We need visionaries for change, visionaries with true character that can lead us away from the devastating impact of the consumer debt culture into a more imaginative and sustainable future. Political leaders with the courage that is willing to make sacrifices not for their personal ambition but for the greater and common good.  A justice system that can regain its respect by acting more like the wisdom of Solomon. We need employees in the work place that find the strength to stand up if need be to their bosses when they sense that something is not right. More tangible and meaningful ways are needed in how we measure how success.

We need those that understand that it is not taxes and regulation or a nanny state that is the answer which instead crowds us out. We need people that care for the needs in our society, the vulnerable, and the ever enlarging widening inequality gap and for our environment. Those that understand that the race for growth in this economic war carries absolutely no meaning that builds our system on sand and not on rock. We need people that also understand that economic exploitation is cruel to humanity, and that we are not units nor are we a cost not part of a capital group. We need an attitude that wealth creation in its purest form from the cradle to the grave is not an innate right. On this matter, I am surprised neither Forbes nor Fortune has yet to come out with rich lists on who has the most expensive graves!!

In short my hope is that one day we find a way to move away from our debt consumption fuelled economy that has trapped our culture into a new era of real freedom, and empowerment unleashing humanities ingenuity. As unique individuals willing to contribute including our footballers, we deserve to be respected for our talent and treated with dignity, deserving of a more fulfilling and creative future where there is a place for each and every one of us.
Dignity is a universal right for all

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